Thursday, 4 July 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. Can the minister guarantee that the government's deal with Centre Alliance will deliver domestic gas prices of $7 per gigajoule or less, as demanded by Senator Patrick?
What I can guarantee is that, as a result of the decision of Centre Alliance senators—and Senator Lambie and Senator Bernardi, of course—millions of hardworking Australians will get to keep more of their own money.
I asked about gas prices. Will the minister guarantee that the Prime Minister's deal with Centre Alliance will deliver domestic gas prices of $7 per gigajoule or less, as demanded by Senator Patrick?
It's good to be back! As I was saying, as a result of the decision by Senators Griff, Patrick, Lambie and Bernardi to support the government's plan for lower income taxes for all working Australians, millions of Australians will get to keep more of their own money. That is going to be good for them, it's going to be good for the economy, it's going to be good for jobs and, of course, it's what the Australian people voted for.
It is, of course, well understood that the government has got a longstanding policy commitment to bring down the price of electricity, including by boosting the supply of gas into the domestic market. Senator Canavan has done an outstanding job, together with Minister Taylor, in helping to bring that about. I think that Senator Canavan would be able to tell you that gas prices today across the east coast market are actually substantially lower than they were at their peak, and, of course, our policy measures so far have had a significant impact. But of course we want to do more.
Let me tell you: you know what the Labor Party were doing while Senator Patrick and Senator Griff were talking to us about public policy? While Senator Lambie was advocating public policy positions with us, do you know what the Labor Party were doing? They were drafting an amendment to change the title of the bill. That is the substantial policy work of the Australian Labor Party after the 2019 election. After the Australian people firmly rejected your high-taxing agenda and your politics of envy, because they knew it would make Australia weaker and would make Australians poorer, here you are; your most substantial contribution to policy debate is to come up with an amendment to change the title of the bill. That is just ridiculous.
I note no guarantee. Senator Patrick has also indicated that the arrangement would require:
… a range of measures, including limits on future gas exports and greater transparency on existing deals.
including 'a gas reservation policy'. Can the minister outline how the gas reservation will apply to current and prospective projects and what impact it will have on gas prices?
What I can confirm for Senator Wong is that today the Senate will have the opportunity to keep faith with the verdict of the Australian people at the last election—that is, by passing income tax relief for all working Australians in full.
It's a matter of public record that the government has got a longstanding policy commitment to bring down the price of electricity, including by boosting the supply of gas into the domestic market. It's also a matter of public record that the government has been engaged in positive and constructive conversations with relevant crossbench senators—those crossbench senators who wanted to pursue and raise issues with us—and we have—
As I was saying, we have a longstanding track record and a very comprehensive agenda to bring down the cost of electricity, including by boosting supply of gas into the domestic market. We have discussed that agenda with relevant crossbench senators who were interested in engaging with us constructively and positively, while the Labor Party was drafting amendments to change the title of the income tax reduction bill. (Time expired)
How will the government meet Senator Patrick's demand to deliver domestic gas prices of $7 per gigajoule or less? Can the minister guarantee the price cut will flow through to consumers and, if so, can the minister indicate what price reduction consumers will see?
Firstly, I'll let Senator Patrick talk for himself. On behalf of the government, I will say that we have a longstanding commitment to bring down electricity prices, including through sensible reforms to policy settings, in order to ensure we can boost the supply of gas into the domestic electricity market. That's something that is a matter of record. Indeed, Senator Canavan is always exploring new policy options to ensure that we can bring electricity prices down further. He is always looking for ways to do more. It's been really good to engage with some constructive and positive senators who are keen to work with the government to deliver better policy outcomes for the nation, instead of the political tactics of the Labor Party, which is to move an amendment to change the title of the bill. I wonder how long it would have taken them to take that through caucus. (Time expired)